My heart has been torn into shreds the past few weeks. To be honest, the worst part of my life right now besides schoolwork is some chronic pain that hasn’t changed much in six or more years – nothing I’m not fully accustomed to by now. Nevertheless, my lungs feel too small for breath sometimes and my limbs feel to heavy to move, some days.
My heart aches for you, Terriers.
I see you.
I see you, the ones who can tell story after story of how you were… are belittled, attacked, or ignored by professors, classmates, fellow Terriers, and members of the Spartanburg community solely based on your skin. I see how hard you have to fight on a daily basis in order to be seen as a human being on this campus. I see you, and I’m sorry I haven’t been there to speak up.
I see you, friends, who spend so much time helping others only to feel like you haven’t done enough… you, who then reach out for help from others and are ignored. I see you, and I’m sorry I haven’t been there to help you in return.
I see you, classmates, who bravely face tragedy after tragedy, seemingly taking hits on all sides, and I feel absolutely powerless to help you. But I see you.
I see you, friends, who struggle with health problems that are difficult to understand and treat, difficult to live with and even more difficult to explain – I know so deeply those feelings of confusion, fear and pain but I feel so unable to make it better because I can’t help myself, either. But I see you. And I love you.
I see you, and my heart hurts so much for you.
I promise to smile at you every time I pass you on the sidewalk – or at least attempt to make eye contact because you are a human being and I want to let you know that I see you.
I promise to hear you when you have something to say, especially when you need help or feel helpless. Because your voice matters, and it matters just as much as the voices that sometimes drown you out.
(If you are the voice drowning others out, I will listen, too. But I might respond in a whisper, that you may hear your own volume.)
I promise to make you a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate if you really need a place to sit and be safe – my relatively boring and somewhat messy dorm room is yours, if you need it.
I promise to listen to you if you just want to chat because you just need to.
I promise to convey to you with every fiber of my being – if not with my words, then with my actions – this:
That you are deeply and so very loved.
Even when you feel helpless, there is hope. Even when you can’t breathe – when fear has too tight a grip on your lungs and you feel like no one sees you – there is one who sees you and who WILL help you. Even when you are attacked and ignored by others, there is one who can and will defend you.
It’s not [always] me… It’s always Jesus.
Jesus is the only reason I have the hope that I do. Jesus is the only reason I can even attempt to love both the oppressed and the ones who seek to oppress – it is impossible without his never-ending grace.
Jesus is the reason I can be thankful even as we face one of the worst semesters of our college careers, friends… between natural disasters, conflicts abroad and the loss of life here on campus and in Spartanburg, there is still some hope.
Jesus is the reason I can be okay with the miniscule difference I make in the face of such overwhelming strife and pain.
Jesus is the reason I can sing. Jesus is the reason that I see you. And Jesus helps me say I love you. You are loved.
I hope you feel this, even if I’m too scared or too shy to say it aloud.
No matter how you feel about Jesus, let’s love people.
…Let’s love people.
No matter how you feel about Jesus, don’t be afraid to ask me for help.
No matter how you feel about yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
There are so many people on this campus who want so badly to tell you that you are valuable. There are so many people on this campus who want to let you know that they see light in you, even when you feel overwhelmed. There are so many people on this campus who will listen to you and hear you when you say you feel alone.
No matter how many people prove me wrong to you, don’t give up. The people that prove us wrong are the easiest to find.
I love you, Terriers. I’m here for you.
Even if it’s all I can do.